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Shrine garden's pond dries up after Kumamoto quakes

The bottom of a pond at Suizenji Jojuen Park is seen exposed to the air, in Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, on April 26, 2016. (Mainichi)

KUMAMOTO -- A shrine garden pond, a local tourist attraction here, has dried up, exposing some 70 to 80 percent of the pond bottom to the air and puzzling park managers, after a deadly earthquake struck this area on April 16.

Even after efforts were made to pump groundwater back into the pond, located in Suizenji Jojuen Park, and after rain fell, only around 20 to 30 percent of the earlier pond size filled. Park maintenance workers are puzzled as to why the pond won't retain its water.

Noritaka Ajisaka, 27, a priest at Izumi Shrine, which manages the park, came to the park to check on things at 3 a.m. on April 16, about an hour and a half after the main shock hit. He thought it strange when he didn't see the moonlight reflecting in the pond like usual. At around 5:30 a.m., he discovered that almost all of the around 10,000 square meter pond's water was gone.

"I couldn't believe the water was gone," he says. He moved the around 100 to 120 carp fish in the pond into the water that remained.

Suizenji Jojuen Park was created in 1671 by Hosokawa Tsunatoshi, the feudal lord of the Higohosokawa domain, in the Momoyama style. In 2008, the Ministry of the Environment chose the park's pond as one of 100 Heisei era selections for fine bodies of water in Japan.

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